Make-Ahead Curried Apple Chutney for Christmas (and Leftovers)
Sure, we all love cranberry sauce served alongside the turkey or ham on Christmas Day, but especially when slathered on the day-after sandwich. But I propose that there is another condiment that is equally (if not better) suited for festive seasonal fare: curried apple chutney. Made out of local apple varieties and warming, fragrant spices, it's the perfect complement to your starring bird. Best of all, this is a recipe that not only can be made ahead, but actually improves with time. This recipe is safe for water-bath canning, so you can prepare the chutney quickly and easily, then store it on the shelf until you’re ready for the big day.
1/2 small red bell pepper, stemmed, ribs and seeds removed (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium jalapeno peppers, stemmed, ribs removed, partially seeded as desired
Before you chop your apples, it’s best to do all the other prep first. Chop your onion, bell pepper, dried apples and jalapenos first. It’s a good idea to wear rubber or latex gloves when handling the hot peppers. If you do not have any, rub your hands with oil to protect your hands from the chiles’ capsaicin, and wash your hands very thoroughly afterward.
Pour the vinegar into a large enamel or stainless steel pot. Do not use aluminum or other reactive metals. Peel your apples if desired, and core and chop into 1/4-inch pieces. Throw the chopped apples directly into the vinegar to avoid browning.
Add the raisins, dried apples, sugar, onions and red pepper, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to avoid sticking or scorching. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently until fruit has softened and liquid thickened, 45 to 60 minutes.
Add the fresh ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, ground ginger, curry powder, allspice and 1 teaspoon salt to the apple mixture. Continue to simmer until the liquid has thickened and the mixture mounds on a spoon, 30 to 45 minutes more.
If you are not canning, remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature, transfer to containers and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
If you plan to can the chutney, prepare the jars and lids. Wash all jars and lids thoroughly with soap and water, and rinse well. Fill your canner with enough water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch and bring to a simmer. Using a pair of canning tongs, lower the jars into the canner gently, tilting them to fill with the hot water. In a small saucepan, keep some water warm but not boiling; place the lids in the water. Have an additional kettle of water on to boil. When all the jars are in the canner, there should be at least 1 inch of water covering them; if you need more, add water from the kettle until the jars are sufficiently covered. Bring the water to a full rolling boil; process for 10 minutes.
Using canning tongs, gently remove the jars from the canner and transfer them to a kitchen towel or cooling rack, again keeping them vertical. Do not set hot jars directly onto cool counter surfaces. Leave to cool, undisturbed, for at least 12 hours. If any of the jars do not seal when cool, reprocess using the method above, or refrigerate and use immediately.
Add a label to the lid or side of your jar, noting the date it was canned. Remove the rings and store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Refrigerate after opening.
Sean Timberlake is a professional writer, amateur foodie, avid traveler and all-around bon vivant. He is the founder of Punk Domestics, a content and community site for DIY food enthusiasts, and has penned the blog Hedonia since 2006. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, DPaul Brown, and their hyperactive terrier, Reese.